1917 Drama

Review: ‘1917’ is a Spectacular Cinematic Achievement

December 23, 2019Ferdosa Abdi

In 1917, director Sam Mendes brings moviegoers a riveting and heart-pounding tale of two soldiers on an impossible mission to deliver a message that could change the course of history. Inspired by a tale from his own grandfather, Mendes crafts a story that is demanding of viewers attention. Paired with the infallible cinematographer Roger Deakins, 1917 is a war film that is unlike any other.

The story follows Lance Corporal Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Lance Corporal Will Schofield (George MacKay), two young Allied soldiers who are given the task of delivering a message that will prevent the British army from walking into a German ambush. Their job is a race against the clock — not only to save nearly 1600 British men and boys, but to save Tom's brother (Richard Madden), who is amongst them.

Chapman and MacKay have a brief amount of time to establish a bond and friendship between their characters that is believable and vital to the execution of this premise, and they do so almost effortlessly. The script by Mendes and co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns features a number of scenes that alleviate the stress of the situation, but which also show our heroes as relatable and human. As the narrative unfolds primarily from their perspective, it is important to have actors who can portray the gravity of the movie's situations, and Chapman and MacKay do this brilliantly.

By utilizing a one-take approach to telling this story, Mendes risks 1917 coming across as a gimmick, as the craftsmanship needed to execute some of these set pieces and action sequences demands great attention to detail and patience. However, the effort Mendes and Deakins put into it to create an environment and ambience that is both beautiful and haunting is seen in the end results. War is a difficult thing to capture on film in an interesting way, but the pair do so in a spectacular manner, as there are many moments that will stay with viewers.

War movies, especially ones that take place during WWI and WWII, have been a mainstay in cinema for as long as the medium has been around, and it has gotten to the point that it is now incumbent on filmmakers to use technological innovation to tell their stories in an interesting manner that will engage audiences and provide an experience. In that regard, 1917 is definitely an experience worth having, as it is a heartfelt story of heroism and an impressive technical achievement.

1917 releases December 25th, 2019 from 20th Universal Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of R for violence, some disturbing images, and language. Its runtime is 1 hr. 59 min.

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